Baby It’s Cold Outside: Indoor Fitness for Seniors

Indoor Fitness for Seniors

Even when the weather gets cold, it is important for seniors to be active. According to the Mayo Clinic, seniors should aim for 2½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. (1)  Activity helps maintain or improve strength, balance, energy, mental capabilities, mood, and your immune system. If you live in a state where the temperature is starting to drop too low to exercise outside, it is time to move your fitness routine indoors.

Indoor Physical Activities for Seniors

Walking Inside

While it may not be the first idea you think of when you think about exercise, you can simply walk inside your house. This can be a bit tricky if you have a small home, but if you do a bit of furniture rearranging, you may be able to create an exercise area. If you have a kitchen island you can do laps around it or if you have a long straight hallway, you can walk back and forth.

For those who live near a shopping mall and have access to transportation, malls provide a safe, warm place with lots of smooth, even walking paths. Many malls even have designated hours for “mall walkers,” making this a great opportunity to get in your laps.

While walking inside can help you stay active on a regular basis, you should also try to find other ways to introduce some cardio and strengthening exercises into your fitness routine.

Using a Home Gym

If you have a spare room in your home or a finished basement, consider turning it into a home gym. You can get a treadmill, exercise bike, and some weights to lift. Then you will have a personal exercise area to visit whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about gyms being open or too crowded.

An Alert1 in-home fall prevention button is the perfect for working out at home. If you happen to fall or experience any sort of emergency, you can reach an emergency response agent at the press of a button. Even if you are unable to speak to the agent, they will still get help to you as quickly as possible.

Virtual Fitness Classes and Videos

If you can’t afford your own home gym, and don’t want to venture out due to the dropping temperatures or inclement weather, you can still exercise from the comfort of your own home. You can join virtual fitness classes online or watch exercise tutorials on YouTube. There are a variety of videos, so you are sure to find one that suits your needs. One search you may want to try is “fall prevention exercises for seniors.” These exercises can help you strengthen the right muscles to reduce your risk of falling.

Join a Public Gym

Joining a gym can accommodate you if your home is small or if you desire a change of scenery. They already have plenty of equipment for you to use. If you are concerned about finding a gym that is friendly for all ages, try using this age-friendly facilities and services locator.

While visiting a gym, be sure to wear a medical alert wrist watch. This emergency response solution is lightweight, stylish, and offers multiple useful features. The pedometer can help you meet your fitness by tracking your steps.The watch also features a weather app so that you can see the temperature and weather conditions. If your watch tells you that your area is expecting snow, you will know that you should leave the gym early.

If you happen to fall or experience another emergency while at the gym, the watch can also help you quickly contact an emergency response agent for help. The built-in GPS pinpoints your exact location so that they know where to send help.

Join a YMCA

If a gym isn’t your thing, you may want to consider a YMCA instead. A YMCA is typically more community-based than a gym. It provides you with the chance to socialize, which is also an important aspect of senior health. Socializing helps keep your mind sharp and improves your mood.

YMCAs also typically offer more amenities than a gym, such as a full running track, sport courts, swimming pools, fitness classes, and dance classes. If you like more options, a YMCA might be for you. However, it is worth noting that YMCA membership is typically more expensive than the typical gym membership.

Take a Community Class

Check your city or town for community exercise classes. These are typically held in community centers, schools, or libraries. Like a YMCA, community classes also offer you the chance to socialize and make friends. The people around can motivate you to meet your fitness goals.

Many communities offer classes such as yoga, aerobics, dancing, and kickboxing. You can choose whichever class appeals to you. Each exercise routine benefits your senior health and wellness in a different way. If you have a specific health goal, choose the class that best helps you meet it. For instance, if you want to improve strength and flexibility, tai chi may be the best option. Alternatively, if you want to improve your cardio and endurance, a dance class may work better.

While you work out indoors, you may also want to keep yourself safe with a medical alert device for seniors. These gadgets for seniors offer 24/7/365 access to a certified emergency response agent who can guide you through a variety of emergencies including falls, fires, break-ins, and medical emergencies. When you press the panic button on either your in-home emergency alarm button or on your mobile senior communication device, you will be instantly connected with an agent that you can talk to through either the base station of your in-home device or the built-in 2-way speaker or your on-the-go button. 

The agent will use their training and registered protocols to guide you through the situation and contact whoever you need for help. They will also remain on the line with you until someone physically arrives to assist you. A medical alarm button for the elderly will provide you with peace of mind while you try these fun and beneficial indoor exercise options.

Get the Most Out of Your Exercise

There are countless ways to exercise. As long as you are doing something active, it can help improve your overall health and prevent serious medical conditions. Health Day reports that more than one-quarter of Americans over 50 don't exercise.(2) Additionally, America’s Health Rankings states that around 10% of deaths among adults ages 40 to 69 and 7.8% of deaths among adults ages 70 and older were attributed to physical inactivity. (3) Exercise is critical for seniors’ health. If you want to get the most out of your fitness routine, try these tips:

Use Materials That You Already Have

Some gym equipment can be expensive. If you are exercising on a budget, you can find other ways to make do with what you have.

  • You can use soup cans, wine bottles, books, or laundry detergent as weights.
  • Towels can be use as stretching straps.
  • Basketballs or soccer balls can be used as medicine balls.

Even if you don’t want to invest in a treadmill, exercise bike, or other fitness equipment, you should invest in a senior life-saving alert system to keep you safe not just when you are working out, but anytime. When you wear your emergency response solution, you will have an instant and easy way to contact someone for help. You don’t need to worry about getting to a phone, typing in multiple numbers, or finding the right contact, you simply need to press a single button (or no button for fall alert devices).

Include a Variety of Exercises

The more variety you incorporate into your exercise, the better you can improve your overall senior health and wellness. Some types of exercises you will want to incorporate include:

  • Strength – This includes weightlifting, cycling, dance, resistance exercises, push-ups, squats, and sit-ups. These exercises help keep your muscles strong so that they can move around properly. They also help you maintain your strength so you can perform daily activities such as getting out of chairs, putting dishes away, doing laundry, and climbing stairs.
  • Endurance – Endurance exercises include walking, running, dancing, cycling, swimming, jump rope, planking, wall sits, and some other bodyweight exercises. These exercises help you do physical activities for a longer period of time. Then you won’t get tired as easily and can reduce your risk of falling.
  • Aerobic and Cardio – Some aerobic exercises include walking, running, swimming, cycling, and jump rope. Pretty much anything that can get your heart beating faster is a cardio exercise. Aerobic exercises help you avoid certain medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
  • Balance – Balance exercises include tai-chi, stability ball exercises, and other strength exercises that require you to hold specific positions. They help you learn how to distribute your weight properly to reduce your risk of falling.
  • Flexibility – Flexibility exercises improve your ability to move and reduce your risk of injuring yourself. Flexibility exercises include various stretches such as toe-touches, lunges, hamstring stretches, calf stretches, quadricep stretches, butterfly stretches, and cobra stretches.

Schedule Exercise into Your Day

If you want to help yourself guarantee that you are getting enough exercise, be sure to create a daily or weekly routine that incorporates exercise into your schedule. To meet the 2 ½ hours recommended by Mayo Clinic, you can do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. You can schedule a different type of exercise each day. This can help you get the best all-around workout and reduce your chance of developing medical issues. It can even save on your medical bills. “Adults aged 50-plus years who started exercising just 90 minutes a week saved, on average, $2,200 per year in medical costs,” according to Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)” (4)

Wear the Right Shoes

Make sure you have good shoes while you work-out. Good shoes can make a significant difference in keeping you safe and minimizing soreness after a workout. Choose shoes that have a sturdy sole and have good cushion support. You may also want to consider insoles that can provide extra comfort where you need it.

Don’t Let Cold Weather Stop You

Even if it’s cold outside, you can find other ways to work up a sweat. Exercise is beneficial to all ages, but is especially important for seniors overall health and wellness. It keeps both your mind and body healthy and improves your safety by reducing the risk of falling. While you may have to miss out on some outdoor benefits until spring, you can enjoy the benefits of indoor exercise such as having a community to work out with, enjoying the comfort of your own home, and having more control over your surroundings. Overall, it doesn’t matter where you are working out, as long as you are doing some sort of consistent activity to stay healthy. Please note: any new exercise routine should be approved by your medical doctor before commencing.

1 Carlson, Kelly, PT. Jan 2021. Speaking of Health. Mayo Clinic Health System. Ways for Seniors to Remain Active During Winter.
2 Dotinga, Randy. Sept. 2016. Health News. Health Day. 31 Million Older Americans Aren't Getting Enough Exercise.
3  America’s Health Ranking staff. 2021. Senior Report. America’s Health Ranking.
4 Van Pelt, Jennifer, MA. 2010. Aging Well. Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Exercise as Medicine.